The Last Days of Winter

Genre: Samurai drama, fantasy, Legend of the Five Rings setting
Players: 11 male, 8 female, 3 of either gender
DMs: two to three; dedicated food helpers strongly recommended

As the Sleeping River begins to swell with melted snow, the thoughts of samurai and their servants turn reluctantly from the diversions and intrigues of Winter to the more weighty matters of Spring and Summer. Although frequent blizzards and deep snows have made travel difficult, the preparations of the hosts, Lady Atsuko and Lord Takahiro of the Doji family, have made Lazy Catfish City seem more like an enchanted dreamland than an icy prison.

Court has, of course, not been without its upsets. General Fujihiro cannot have been pleased to see his students bested in the Go tournament by a young courtier. An unknown ronin's scandalous inclusion in the dueling contest was followed by his even more scandalous disqualification and departure from court. The negotiations of the proposed marriage between the unusually matched Bayushi Mineko and Akodo Kenzo provided great amusement for all except the bride and groom, but recently matters became more serious when Akodo Masahiro, Kenzo's controversial brother, was found dead under suspicious circumstances.

In the week since, despite urges for calm and restraint, increasingly direct and unpleasant accusations have been levelled by Masahiro's relatives at none other than Kenzo's bride! In their wisdom, the hosts have forbidden duels of honour within the city limits, and have petitioned the renowned magistrate Mirumoto Okura to enforce the peace and investigate the despicable crime.

Unable to contain their outrage, the two parties have hastened to the House of the Restful Fan, a small inn a stone's throw from Boundary River. Tired and cold from a full day's journey through poor weather, both delegations are eager to refresh themselves before settling their dispute.

The inn's reduced winter staff have had only moments to prepare for the sudden arrival of so many distinguished patrons—and the few other guests have suddenly found themselves moved to less opulent lodgings. The peasants, already troubled by recent ratling raids and preoccupied with arranging a marriage of their own, must now contend with a disruption of their routine. The presence of their honourable samurai lords can only make their lives more interesting.

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